Saints Free Agency 2012: Drew Brees Staying, Carl Nicks, Marques Colston Likely Gone

The New Orleans Saints went 13-3 in the 2011 regular season but fell to an upset in the playoffs by the San Francisco 49ers. Drew Brees set a new single-season passing record by throwing for 5,476 yards and 46 touchdowns, which led the team to win the NFC South. Unfortunately for the Saints, they're being gutted by free agency as Brees, and a handful of other top-tier players are all scheduled the be unrestricted free agents. The team used the franchise tag on Brees, which means they'll keep their star quarterback but it also means they'll likely lose the other players.

The Saints have to worry about league sanctions from the "bountygate" issue, but they also likely need to worry about how they're going to replace Carl Nicks, one of the better guards in this year's free agency class, and Marques Colston, the team's No. 1 wide receiver. Fellow wide receiver Robert Meachem is also a free agent.

The Saints aren't in cap trouble, but with so many talented players potentially leaving, they won't have enough money to keep everybody. Carl Nicks is probably as good as gone and the team would surely love to keep either Colston or Meachem, if not both, but they could possibly lose both based on other teams' needs. When it comes to bringing in outside players, the Saints may attempt to find a pass rusher as they had trouble getting to the quarterback in 2011. They won't have the money to make a move for Mario Williams, but they could go after a guy like Jeremy Mincey in free agency.

For more free agency updates, go to SB Nation's Saints blog, Canal Street Chronicles.

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